Q: What political steps should be taken to achieve your goals?
AR: I do not work for or advocate any new political party. It's much too early for that. But since many of you are Republicans and interested in local politics, I'd say that politics must begin with an idea. You cannot win elections with isolated slogans used once in four years. If anything practical can be done, it is this: Work out a consistent set of principles, and teach it to the people in your party: precinct workers, local candidates, and perhaps national candidates. Teach them the case for capitalism. Demand-morally, proudly, unapologetically-a return to full capitalism.
This cannot be done overnight, so don't be crusaders in the impractical sense of demanding immediate change. But hold out that goal to people. Instead of socialists promising people public support, hold out the promise of freedom, and proceed step-by-step toward it. Formulate a policy of what controls should be repealed first, and what steps could achieve a fully decontrolled economy. But above all, base your program on a full knowledge of the history of, and the case for, capitalism, and a full defense of capitalism against the accusations and misconceptions preached by the left.
Begin in the high schools and colleges, because that is the source of future politicians and men of action. You can achieve nothing in a political election if you neglect the institutions where ideas are formed. Make sure the educational institutions where ideas are formed. Make sure the educational institutions can teach individualism and capitalism. You shouldn't aim for control of the schools; you should support those in your schools who are good, as the leftist support their advocates. Whereas liberals stand by any liberal teacher or writer or columnist, conservatives do not do the same for their own. Conservatives do no show enough interest in ideas and ideological consistency. Develop that consistency. First convince yourself of the case for capitalism, then preach ideology.Learn to defend you case so that no liberal could answer it. If you compare the state of West Germany to East Germany, you have an object lesson right there - if you know how to present and analyze it. Don't apologize for capitalism. Don't allow it to be denounced as a system of selfish greed. But you cannot do any of this so long as you simultaneously pay lip service to altruism. Learn the morality implied in the Declaration of Independence, document that today isn't quoted enough nor sufficiently understood. The Objectivist ethics is merely the philosophically-worked-out proof of what the Founding Fathers implied in the Declaration.If you do all of this, you could save the world without the loss of a single American life, because all the totalitarian monsters would collapse. The battle is moral and philosophical. Do not believe in Russia's power; do not believe their threats. They would run, as they twice ran in their war with Finland. Russia is winning strictly by default. The only way to stop her is with a proper anti-altruist, American morality.Q: Is a major revolution necessary to solve our country's problems, or is the solution to be found piecemeal?
AR: Neither. The major revolution happened in 1776. You don't stage a revolution against a country still following its basic principles. But neither is the solution to fight piecemeal. The only way to fight for a cause is intellectually - that is, philosophically, which is to say in terms of fundamental principles. When you fight in this way, it's as if you're an intellectual wholesaler rather than a retailer. You cover a whole field by means of appropriate principles, instead of fighting piecemeal, which is what activists today are trying-and they're failing.Q: Could You Comment on the ineptness of political advisers in America? Is it the result of stupidity or malice?
AR: Stupidity, of course. You're flattering them if you think it's malice. They don't know any better, which isn't' a crime. What is a crime is that they don't want to know any better. After all, people in politics are only the last result of the educational and cultural trends in a country. They aren't the cause of anything. They are cashing in on what they've been told, which is exclusively collectivism and statism. They see that it doesn't work, but they're unable to think of what could work. They can't return to capitalism; nobody told them to. [bold mine]
Q: You've said it would be proper to revolt if the government established censorship. Has that time come?Fortunately, not yet, or I couldn't be giving this speech and you couldn't be listening to it. Censorship operates as it did in Nazi Germany and does in Soviet Russia. It's total government-enforced uniformity of opinion, ultimately under penalty of death. We haven't reached that point, and I don't think the government will get away with it here, at least not yet. Even in Russia (where I witnessed the process), after the Communists seized power, they didn't establish total censorship immediately. It took years of gradual steps, each one a trial balloon. They got away with it through smaller encroachments, until they established total censorship. They won't get away with it here, because the basic premises of the American people are still pro-freedom. But basic premises alone won't do any good. We must be aware of the advance of censorship. And if the government begins wholesale suppression, then it's proper to revolt.
Along with "hate speech laws" (as I detailed here), the "Fairness Doctrine" is definitely a "trial balloon" and warrants careful attention. I hold that this should be a major political issue for Objectivists.
Let me add one final point. In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand showed us that evil is not powerful in and of itself. It takes the sanction of the victim. In Atlas Shrugged, the producers go on strike and leave the "looters" to themselves. As we all know, the step preceding a strike is the process of organizing the would be strikers in an effort to change things. I think it is time to organize the producers. What does this mean? It means efforts to be heard not just by newspapers and politicians but especially by the productive – to the corporations, the business owners, the doctors, the engineers - those upon which civilization most depends. Organizing productive people to fight for their ideals is difficult because, well, they are productive. We all are devoted to our careers, our spouses and our families. It’s easier for the left because they are usually unemployed and have a lot of time on their hands.
Fortunately, there are some great organizations already focusing on activism and we can take advantage of the division of labor, i.e., just give them some money and let them do it. First and foremost I advocate supporting:
[update: I forgot to mention BB&T charitable grant program that has been funding studies of the morality of capitalism now in over 40 colleges and universities. Hear, Hear, to John Allison and BB&T!]
Please feel free to comment and offer any other suggestions or links.